Thursday, 30 December 2010

Overview: Christmas Come Down (Part 1)

Over for another year, I can truthfully say that Christmas 2010 will certainly be one to remember. After a year full of Global debt crises, political upheaval and the passing of Leslie Nielsen, here is my retrospective on a fantastic festive period.

To be honest, the run up to Christmas 2010 was quite disappointing, everyone seemed to be filled with the doom and gloom of yet another fun-packed (or stress-filled) yuletide period in the grips of a recession. Where it seemed that in 2009 it was vitally important to be jolly and bright, this time around one got the impression that most people would rather not have bother. One friend even expressed a desire that they wished to work in the days proceeding Christmas Day rather than that public or office enforced holidays. Such attitudes are tantamount to treason in my view and made me even more determined that I was going to enjoy myself excessively!

I started my Christmas shopping early with a few carefully chosen Amazon presents here and a some thoughtfully purchase trinkets up in the centre of London – all of which was painless. Of course I became more and more determined as I saw the half arsed efforts shops and streets had made to get into the spirit of the season, even telling one shop to whack up the volume on their stereo so I could enjoy the fifteenth playing of ‘Driving Home for Christmas’!

So with presents bought, I made sure that I saw as many friends as possible before they became caught up by their families for that few days a year when we are all subjected to our relations after an excessive onslaught of food and alcohol. Nevertheless I was very much looking forward to it and it was with school boy-ish enthusiasm that I leapt out of bed on Christmas Eve morning in order to get down to the countryside as soon as possible.

We (my mother and myself) always spend Christmas down at my Aunt and Uncle’s who live in a pretty little village on the North Downs, and as we left London the snow on the ground, which was rather patchy in the Capital began to thicken until all around was carpeted in the white stuff. To my mind this was the first white Christmas I had ever had in my short lifetime and I was steeled even more in my quest to have a bloody good time. The car was groaning under a collection of booze, cheese, presents and the like which we happy to provide for ourselves and our relations who I’m sure were not anticipating our arrival with as much relish and gusto with which I was imagining!

Sure enough as we arrived on Christmas Eve afternoon my Aunt announced that half the guests were poorly which, to a lesser man, might have dampened the squib a little…but not me. Instead I through myself into the occasion with gusto, I have always regarded myself as something of an entertainer within the family unit and, first drink in hand (which was a nice cold 16:00 lager in this case – after a separate, boozy lunch) I started to make that witty small talk which I am famous for. Usually deaf ears seemed to warm to my banter (except for my Grandmother whose hearing aid may have need some new batteries) and soon I was feeling confident that I was starting to lift the spirits of all and sundry like a modern day ghost of Christmas present.

The hours and a few more beverages went by as the fire crackled away and the wind whipped through the skeletal frames of the oak trees outside and soon all were laughing merrily, but more I think at my comic fall on the floor mid Al-Pacino-in-Scent-of-a-Woman that provided the mirth and not my scintillating conversation.

The pop of a Champagne cork or two certainly heralded the start of something promising and Christmas Eve supper was a delightful warm up for the goodies that were waiting in store for all of us on the next day. I washed down a delicious array of cold ham (thickly sliced of course), smooth and creamy mash and some tasty Leek Sauce with an equally delicious Chateauneuf – du – Pape. The conversation sparkled (apart from poor granny whose hearing aid was still posing something of an amusing problem!) and many a fine joke was shared, more often than not at someone else’s expense!

After such a feast my uncle (who is a vicar) had to depart to conduct midnight mass (a hard task considering he dozed off and woke up with minutes to spare, I can only imagine how much he enjoyed tearing down those icy, winding roads to deliver the message of peace and goodwill to all men!) whilst I and a collection of cousins settled down to watch one of my favourite Christmas films, Die Hard and oh how we laughed, cried and marvelled at the strong yuletide message which that film really does convey.

Wending my way up to bed with a G & T and a lemon peel tisane I was filled with a great sense of anticipation for the next day and to say that I slept a wink before the night was through would be a lie! However Christmas Day comes but once a year and as such dear reader, you will have to wait but a few hours before the next instalment of this merry melody…

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